The books listed offer a way to affirm, learn, and start important conversations about celebrating individuality.
Picture Books and Board Books
Five-year-old Penelope loves skateboarding, ninjas, and learning about math and science at school, but he hates that other people see him as a girl. When Penelope’s mother notices that something is wrong, he tells her that he is really a boy, and she helps him make sure that everyone else understands that too. But one thing he doesn’t want to change is his name– he is a boy named Penelope! Based on the true story of author Jodie Patterson’s transgender son, Born Ready tells a powerful and uplifting story about having the courage to be who you truly are. Grades Pre-K-4
Siblings Evan, Sam, and Finn love nothing more than playing and exploring together, but when Sam starts wanting to check out princess books from the library, wear dresses, and have long hair, Evan and Finn aren’t sure how to feel. But with love and support from their parents and one another, Evan, Sam, and Finn come to understand that Sam is still the same person, and the three siblings can still play together like they did before. Sam is My Sister is a great choice for helping children understand and support their transitioning sibling.
What are Your Words? introduces children to the concept of pronouns through a gentle story about a child named Ari, their Uncle Lior, and all of their friends and neighbors enjoying a neighborhood party. Ari, whose pronouns change day-to-day, is having trouble deciding what words to use today, but with time, patience, and some help from their Uncle Lior, they just might figure it out. Grades K-3
This picture book follows a young Cuban girl in the 1930s as she strives to become a drummer, despite being continually reminded that only boys play the drums, and that there's never been a female drummer in Cuba. Includes a note about Millo Castro Zaldarriaga, who inspired the story, and Anacaona, the all-girl dance band she formed with her sisters. Grades 1-5
Three-year-old Casey wants what his older sister, Jessie, has--a shimmery skirt, glittery painted nails, and a sparkly bracelet--but Jessie does not approve. After two boys tease Casey about his appearance, Jessie evolves to a place of acceptance and celebration of her gender creative younger brother. Grades Pre-K-2
A young boy becomes fascinated with his mother's bindi, the red dot commonly worn by South Asian women to indicate the point at which creation begins, and wishes to have one of his own. His mother agrees to it, and teaches him about its cultural significance, allowing the boy to discover the magic of the bindi, which in turn gives him permission to be more fully himself. Grades Pre-K - 2
This sweet, straightforward exploration of gender identity will give children a fuller understanding of themselves and others. With child-friendly language and vibrant art, It Feels Good to Be Yourself provides young readers and parents alike with the vocabulary to discuss this important topic with sensitivity. Grades Pre-K –3
Julián and his friend Marisol are in a wedding– or, as Julián puts it, “a party for love”! When they sneak away from the wedding to play and end up in an unexpected situation, they are reminded why it is so good to have friends. Sparse text gives Jessica Love’s stunning ink and watercolor illustrations room to shine in this vibrant follow-up to 2018’s Julián is a Mermaid. Pre-K-3
In this sweet and simple story, a child reflects on things that are not quite one thing or the other, but somewhere in between, like sporks, the color hazel, spring and fall– and their Maddy, who is not a girl or a boy, but is a very loving parent. Includes an author’s note with information about transgender, non-binary, and gender-expansive identities, as well as ways to support a child with a transgender parent. K-3
Payden has always used he/him pronouns, until one day Payden realizes those words might not fit. Payden's parents promise to throw a big party to introduce whatever pronouns Payden chooses--but which pronouns are the best match? On a colorful quest, Payden talks to friends about a rainbow of possibilities: he, she, they, ze, and so many more! The right pronouns are just waiting to be tried on. Put on your party hats and learn about the magical variety of pronouns in this thoughtful story that imagines a world of unquestioning support for gender exploration, celebrates all the different ways a person can present, and provides a blueprint for people of any age who are pondering what gender means to them. Grades Pre-K-4
Upper Elementary and Middle School
Lily Jo McGrother, born Timothy McGrother, is a girl. But being a girl is not so easy when you look like a boy. Especially when you're in the eighth-grade. Norbert Dorfman, nicknamed Dunkin Dorfman, is bipolar and has just moved from the New Jersey town he's called home for the past thirteen years. This would be hard enough, but the fact that he is also hiding from a painful secret makes it even worse. One summer morning, Lily Jo McGrother meets Dunkin Dorfman, and their lives forever change.
When people look at George, they think they see a boy. But she knows she's not a boy. She knows she's a girl. When her teacher announces that their class play is going to be Charlotte's Web. George really, really, REALLY wants to play Charlotte. But the teacher says she can't even try out for the part . . . because she's a boy. With the help of her best friend, Kelly, George comes up with a plan. Not just so she can be Charlotte -- but so everyone can know who she is, once and for all. Grades 4 & up
Eleven-year-old Rick Ramsey has generally gone along with everybody, just not making waves, even though he is increasingly uncomfortable with his father's jokes about girls, and his best friend's explicit talk about sex; but now in middle school he discovers the Rainbow Spectrum club, where kids of many genders and identities can express themselves--and maybe among them he can find new friends and discover his own identity, which may just be to opt out of sex altogether.
For most of her twelve years, Astrid has done everything with her best friend Nicole. But after Astrid falls in love with roller derby and signs up for derby camp, Nicole decides to go to dance camp instead. And so begins the most difficult summer of Astrid's life as she struggles to keep up with the older girls at camp, hang on to the friend she feels slipping away, and cautiously embark on a new friendship. As the end of summer nears and her first roller derby bout (and junior high!) draws closer, Astrid realizes that maybe she is strong enough to handle the bout, a lost friendship, and middle school... in short, strong enough to be a roller girl. Grades 4-7
Welcome to Andover, where superpowers are common-but not for Jessica Tran. Despite her heroic lineage, Jess is resigned to a life without superpowers when an internship for Andover's resident super villain allows her to work alongside her longtime crush Abby and helps her unravel a plot larger than heroes and villains altogether. Grades 5-8
Grayson Sender has been holding onto a secret for what seems like forever: "he" is a girl on the inside, stuck in the wrong gender's body. The weight of this secret is crushing, but sharing it would mean facing ridicule, scorn, rejection, or worse. Despite the risks, Grayson's true self itches to break free. Will new strength from an unexpected friendship and a caring teacher's wisdom be enough to help Grayson step into the spotlight she was born to inhabit? Grades 5-7
Eleven-year-old (nearly twelve) Celi Rivera, who is a mix of Black-Puerto Rican-Mexican Indian is uncomfortable about her approaching period, and the changes that are happening to her body; she is horrified that her mother wants to hold a traditional public moon ceremony to celebrate the occasion--until she finds out that her best friend Magda is contemplating an even more profound change of life. Grades 4-7
There’s a witch in Snap’s town! At least, that’s what Snap thinks until she ventures onto the witch’s property to look for her lost dog, and finds out that the “witch” is actually just a strange old woman named Jacks who rescues injured animals and reassembles the skeletons of roadkill to sell on the internet. As the two work together, Snap gets to know Jacks, and also learns more about herself, her friend Lulu, and her family’s history, and that maybe her town does have a witch, after all. Grades 4-8
Written by transgender swimmer and activist Schuyler Bailar, Obie is Man Enough tells the story of seventh-grader, competitive swimmer, and transgender boy Obie Chang. Despite his supportive family and teachers, getting kicked off of his swim team by a transphobic coach and losing one of his closest childhood friends make the beginning of Obie’s transition rocky to say the least. Soon, however, Obie finds a new swim team and new friends who love him for who he is, and might even have his first crush! Most important of all, he begins to understand his place in the world and love himself for who he is. Grades 5-8